Abolish Amtrak sign now

To Congress:

We, the undersigned, request that you immediately eliminate funding for Amtrak and that the organization be abolished.

This is an opportune time for the Bush Administration and the Congress to end the Amtrak protection racket. Amtrak's threatened shutdown is nothing more than a thinly-veiled attempt to extort more money from U.S. taxpayers. Having developed consumer dependence upon its commuter trains, shut out competition through its government created and subsidized monopoly, and failed to turn a profit, Amtrak has again come, hat in hand, to extort more money in return for not leaving commuters stranded on train platforms.

But Amtrak is merely symptomatic of a deeper problem facing our nation: the idea of entitlement. In the case of Amtrak, some small sector of the population has determined that it is entitled to the product of someone else's labor in order to subsidize their own commuter costs. And Amtrak has determined that it is easier to obtain government subsidies than it is to run a passenger railroad line profitably and in competition with other rail lines. The same determinations have been made in agriculture, the steel industry, and hosts of other industries. But what is the justification of such plans which take the hard-earned wages of some Americans to subsidize failing companies or farmers, or business commuters?

Contrast this with the campaigns to punish or handicap successful enterprises such as Microsoft. Rather than simply stepping aside and letting the market operate to reward innovation and achievement, and to punish or discourage inefficiency and ineptitude, our government has intervened with a backward approach in which success is punished and failure rewarded - and all while Americans, especially economically successful ones, see an increasing percentage of their income go to failing enterprises.

There can be no justification for such a system. Congress and the President should take this opportunity to begin ending such subsidies and it should start by jettisoning Amtrak now.

Matthew L. Curtis is a writer for The Objectivist Center (www.objectivistcenter.org). The Objectivist Center is a national not-for-profit think tank promoting the values of reason, individualism, freedom and achievement in American culture.

Copyright, The Objectivist Center. For more information, please visit www.ObjectivistCenter.org.


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